by Kevin McCaskill Jr.
9/12/23 * 5:55 PM
(AMHERST, MA) - The Minutemen hosted the Miami (OH) Redhawks in their home opener this past Saturday, in Amherst @ McGuirk Stadium. The Minutemen came into the game 1-1, losing their last game @ Auburn. In that game, starting QB Taisun Phommachanh was injured. According to reports from WMUA, Phommachanh didn’t practice last week which meant Carlos Davis would get the start on Saturday.
It was a beautiful day on the campus of UMass. Minutes before kickoff, an announcement was made in the stadium that play was temporarily suspended for a severe weather delay and that everyone should seek shelter, outside of the stadium. There were clouds in the sky but no dark, rain clouds. I didn’t see any flashes of lightning from the press box.
The first weather delay lasted two hours.
Around 5:15, the players came back on the field. Fans came back to the stands.
On the first possession of the game, Miami (OH) scored when QB Brett Gabbert hit Gage Larvadain for a 38-yard pass TD.
UMass’ first drive with Davis at the helm was a 3 and out. The Minutemen defense forced a turnover when Tyler Rudolph intercepted Gabbert and gave the offense the ball back.
The Minutemen drove down the field and got the ball to 6-yard line. RB Kay’Ron Lynch ran for 5 yards, putting the ball at the 1-yard line. On the next play, Davis tried to get into the end-zone on a QB Sneak but was called short. There are replays that show him getting into the end-zone; the call was never challenged and the play stood. Lynch-Adams tried to get into the end-zone on 4th down but he was also denied by the Redhawks defense.
The game was suspended again for severe weather in the area. Only 30 minutes [real time, not game minutes] passed before the second delay.
The second delay lasted for three hours and thirty-eight minutes.
At 9:42 PM, there was still 3 minutes left in the 1st quarter, for a game that was slated to start @ 3:30 PM.
With the turnover-on-downs before the second delay, the Redhawks had the ball at the 1-yard line. Gabbert completed another pass to Larvadain that went 99 yards for their second TD of the game. The Minutemen were quickly down 14-0.
UMass got the ball but gave it back to Miami (OH) quickly. Davis got the snap and was pressured immediately. He was strip-sacked by Redhawks DL Caiden Woullard. The ball was recovered in the end-zone for a TD by DL Kobe Hilton. The Redhawks were up 21-0.
UMass got the spark they needed with an “pick-6” by DB Dashaun Jerkins. Jerkins intercepted Gabbert and returned it 53 yards for a TD. The Minutemen finally got on the scoreboard 21-7.
Gabbert connected with Larvadain, again, for a 13-yard pass TD. That put Miami (OH) up 28-7.
UMass had an opportunity to cut the lead before halftime but K Cameron Carson missed a 55 yard FG.
UMass was down 28-7 at halftime.
In the third quarter, both teams punted on their 1st possession. UMass got the ball back after the Miami (OH) punt and put together their 1st TD drive in five plays. Davis completed 4 passes, the fourth was a 32 yard pass TD to Greg Desrosiers. The Minutemen pulled closer 28-14.
Later in the quarter, Davis threw another TD, this time to WR Mark Pope. The Minutemen were within one TD, 28-21.
The Redhawks responded with a 33 yard FG by K Graham Nicholson. The Redhawks were up 31-21.
The Minutemen defense came up with another turnover. DL Billy Wooden strip-sacked Gabbert and Wooden recovered the fumble.
In two plays, the Minutemen scored again. Davis threw his 3rd pass TD of the game, this time to George Johnson III. The Minutemen were only down a FG, 31-28.
The next Redhawks possession went for a an unconventional TD, in one play. Gabbert aired it out to his favorite target, Larvadain for another completion. Larvadain was tackled and fumbled the ball. The ball was recovered by Cade McDonald and he rolled into the end-zone for the TD. The Redhawks extended their lead 38-28.
Davis was hurt on the Minutemen’s next possession. Brady Olson got his 1st snaps of the season. He went 3&out on his first possession. Miami (OH) scored another FG by Nicholson. Olson threw an interception on his second drive. The Redhawks got the ball back, got one 1st down and knelt to run out the clock.
Miami (OH) survived in Amherst 41-28.
After the game, UMass HC Don Brown spoke to the media. On Gage Larvadain,
“We were worried about him. He is their best player, best offensive threat. We made the switch and put Mahoney on him, so we moved Mahoney from the outside, in. We were in one of the zone coverages, [Larvadain] kinda caught us…He is a good player”.
UMass is now 1-2 for the season. Their next game is on Saturday @ Eastern Michigan. The game is scheduled to kickoff @ 2 PM on ESPN+.
C. Davis - 22/32 244 yds, 3 TDs, 34.4 QBR
K. Lynch-Adams - 16 car, 57 yds
G. Johnson III - 7 rec 50 yds, 1 TD
M. Pope - 4 rec, 70 yds, 1 TD
G. Desrosiers - 1 rec 32 yds, 1 TD
D. Jerkins - 1 INT, 1 TD
T. Rudolph - 1 INT
B. Gabbert - 12/22 302 yds 4 TD, 2 INT
R. Amos - 23 car, 115 yds
G. Larvadain - 8 rec 273 yds, 3 TD
M. Dowell - 1 INT